In my 30s, losing my edge, bumming myself out. Help.
August 29, 2017 5:51 PM   Subscribe

I am afraid I am getting old and set in my ways... I am in my early 30s and I thought I would have been on more adventures by now....

Ive lived in the SF Bay Area for 15 years and a lot of my good friends have moved away in the past few years. I'm recently married and monogamous so it's hard to make new friends at nightlife gatherings like I used to. I want to go out and see music that my husband doesn't like, but for some reason I hesitate to go alone. But I have nobody to go with usually, either. I dream of throwing everything away and starting a nomadic life, but I also don't think I'd be happy doing that. I love my husband and I'm usually happy with myself and with him. What gives? Am I always going to feel this way? How do I get rid of these doubts? Or what would your advice be?

( I do realize this is a "first world problem" and I wouldn't bring it up except under the semi-anonymity of the internet so hopefully you'll be gentle. Thanks. )
posted by shalom to Human Relations (13 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
First, no one is going to judge you for feeling this way! I hope you can feel more comfortable discussing this with friends because many will relate. You don't have to say it all but just see how others deal with the humdrum parts of their lives and how they make things more exciting. The whole #vanlife thing is popular for a reason!

While I can't speak for the SF Bay area, it's totally normal to go to shows alone as a adult inn other cities I've been in. You can strike up conversation with small groups of strangers. If you wear a wedding ring, people will most likely assume you're just striking up a conversation, especially if you ask a question about the band or venue; if they're chatty, you can keep speaking but, if not, you can go back to doing your own thing. You can also just sit at a table by yourself and enjoy a drink or, seriously, just do stuff on your phone. Teens may be criticized for doing the latter too often but it can really be such a godsend when you've got time to spare and are feeling awkward! I love live music but hear you how it can be much harder to go to shows alone as you get older. It's probably less about feeling unwelcome and more an increasing awareness of how awkward the downtime at shows can be. Perhaps if you make it more of an outing with a meal first or reading in a coffeeshop then it'll feel less weird to do it by yourself?

How about taking a class in a subject you've always been interested in where you can not only learn something new but also connect with a new group of people? How about starting a new volunteer project where you work with and/or for people totally different from yourself?

You and your partner can spend an evening or two a week apart doing your own thing. Does he have regular activities or meetups that take him out of the house? Do you think he'd also enjoy having more alone time occasionally. I absolutely love my partner and we spend so much time together. However, I also love alone time and we've found a nice balance; I know this will be harder to do when we're living together again but you can carve out little pockets as well.

You could plan an overnight or weekend trip by yourself or go visit faraway friends alone. Traveling with a partner can certainly be amazing but the solo journeys can help us reflect and reconnect to ourselves and our rich inner lives. Chances are you'll enjoy your time but also miss your husband so it'll be a sweet experience, both the time alone and reconnecting at the end.

I live on the East Coast; I'm happy here but living in your area would be a dream come true although I know there are ups and downs everywhere. Sometimes you've just got to find out yourself so maybe you and your husband could discuss a move in a few years. There are pros and cons to staying versus leaving but you and he have options. It could be simply moving to a new part of town or to a different continent. You could also just plan an extended vacation in a new place for a month or so and see how it is.

Whatever you decide, I hope you feel more at peace with your current situation or empowered to change it in a way that feels the best.
posted by smorgasbord at 6:20 PM on August 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

Go to the shows. No one is going to judge you, it's totally not a big deal. I go to shows alone all the time.

I went on a very extended nomad adventure in my early 30s, mostly solo. It remains one of the greatest gifts I have ever given myself. It doesn't have to be forever, and it will be fun for a good while before you get sick of it. If you can untangle yourself enough to go for a long trip, do it! If that's not possible because of a job or other commitment, plan a few smaller trips away for a long weekend, by yourself or with your partner. There are plenty of beautiful places to visit nearby!

It's totally normal to feel like this. It's difficult to keep a solid friend group in the Bay Area, it's a very transient population these days. Hang out at your local coffee shop or go to meetups, and I think you'll find many people in the same situation.

If you want some inspiration, read Women Who Run with the Wolves.
posted by ananci at 6:32 PM on August 29, 2017 [10 favorites]

do it, go for it. Don't listen to your fears but listen to your desires.

I am also in my early 30s and I have to fight fight fight to actually DO things. Ride my bike, learn to paint, go out and make friends, it is HARD WORK and so I don't. Not because I'm losing my edge, but because my life around me is becoming more dense with a network of responsibilities and routines.

break it, break the routine, do what YOU want.

Take your husband or don't. You can be very happy yourself, meeting people, having fun, as a married person out by yourself. Don't use him as an excuse or you will resent him. Let him be a foundation or a friend or a fuckbuddy, but not an obligation or hindrance. Your life is yours, you are not his property.
posted by rebent at 6:45 PM on August 29, 2017 [8 favorites]

Judging by my area there are probably some groups that go to concerts and are fun to go with people with.

I've heard the bay area got expensive, so I wouldn't judge people for leaving.

Also interacting with other people isn't cheating, only you can cheat on your husband, not anyone else, if that's what you are worried about.
posted by TheAdamist at 7:48 PM on August 29, 2017

I am in my middle forties and regret my reluctance to explore the world and my own self. If you can find the strength to take one step, take it, and it will fortify you for the next.

I was like your husband in some ways, perhaps, and I can tell you that I deeply regret the things my now-ex-spouse missed out on because of my reluctance.

Don't forgo anything because someone else - no matter how important they are to you - doesn't want to go and do and share. If it's a concert on the other side of town, go. If it's a country on the other side of the globe, go. Please, please, please do not put fences around your growing self, especially if it's only to stay on some kind of relationship plateau.

On another note entirely: I remember distinctly a time in my late thirties when I realized that my work - which I've always valued but never quite grasped - became something like a vocation, in the sense of a calling. YMMV, but I stopped feeling like a kid and started working, in the sense of deliberately pursuing goals I found meaningful, at about the age you are now.

My very best wishes to you, including a wish for you to explore the inner and outer world you deserve.
posted by Caxton1476 at 7:53 PM on August 29, 2017 [9 favorites]

I go to shows alone in the bay area all the time. No one wants to go see weird black metal with me on a week night, shocking.

Turn to nearest stranger: "Hey, do you know who's playing next?"

Or don't and read the news on your phone and drink a beer. Standing around between bands is boring.
posted by bradbane at 11:49 PM on August 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

I am in my early 30s and I thought I would have been on more adventures by now....

Adventures don't (usually) come and find you, you have to go get them.

First, definitely talk to your husband about this. Perhaps he feels the same way and you can be adventure buddies together. Perhaps he doesn't, and your adventures will be a way for you to spend a healthy amount of time apart. Either way, you should let him in to your thoughts and plans about this so that it doesn't feel like a secret burden and lead to more feelings of loneliness and possibly resentment.

A couple ideas for ways to have adventures:

1) Go to the nightlife things. I know that it can be tough for women to go to dating scene-y things like bars and clubs and whatnot without being accosted, so bring your husband or a friend to watch your back.

2) Travel. My wife gets a lot of her wanderlust-y feelings out by attending an annual industry conference that is usually in interesting places to visit. She gets to connect with new folks in her field, gets energized about learning and teaching new information, parties at sponsored cocktail parties, and does a touristy thing or two.

3) Get a side hustle. I just started a gig hosting a pub quiz which has been excitingly challenging to prepare for and learn about how to do it well. I'm also looking forward to meeting and getting to know some regulars and get out of the house on a regular basis. My wife is a semi-pro baker, making and decorating cakes for birthdays and whatnot.

4) Do the touristy things in your town. Groupon can be a great resource for this (as well as for cheap tickets to concerts you might not otherwise have gone to). My wife and I recently took a Segway tour of our city that was fun and exciting.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:06 AM on August 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

You might find it easier to think of this as waves rather than a decline. You're in an adventure dip, time to put some effort into moving the exploration needle up. I know several women who have spent their 70s exploring and my goal is to beat them and be tottering around new places in my 80s. I'm saving flat, socialist utopian countries for then. :)

You can look for friends to adventure with, or make your next adventure skill one of getting more comfortable doing things solo. I've done both at various times, and then sometimes my husband has surprised me leaping forward and I have to catch up with him.

For me this process basically goes...get a passion, figure out how to get the money & time together for it. I'm lucky in having both a supportive spouse and a travel-loving boon companion but I only had the spouse at your age.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:34 AM on August 30, 2017 [6 favorites]

I have similar feelings on the regular. There's definitely a part of me that wants to be hitting film fests and art shows and concerts much more often. And, as with you, having someone to go with is often an issue.

I've found a sort of balance in the last few years largely by targeting fests over individual events. For instance, I'd feel weird to leave my family at home a dozen nights a year to see the old man punk/indie shows I like, but I'm now financially stable enough to be able to afford to see Riot Fest when it comes to Chicago, and that lets me see 15-20 bands in a single weekend. That does a big part of scratching my itch. Between that and 2-5 other shows I fit in during a year, I end up mostly satisfied.

Similarly, I'm planning on going to the Chicago Horror Fest this year to binge watch the kind of stuff my wife has no interest in seeing.

This isn't to say it's never a drag going alone. It is, sometimes. One year I bought a second pass to Riot Fest and gave the individual days out to friends so I wouldn't be stuck alone. That helped but made a pricey thing pricier.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:22 AM on August 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm an only child, so I grew up (happily) entertaining myself sometimes. As a married adult with a hermit husband, I often go out by myself for a movie, live music, theater, dinner, drinks, you name it. I have never felt judged and often strike up enjoyable conversations with strangers. Just be sure to wear your ring. Have fun!
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 10:19 AM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the advice and experiences, everyone. It is a good idea, as mentioned, to think of this yearning as coming in waves. I don't know what I will do, but I am inspired by and will contemplate your words. I really thought I was the only one who felt this thing that I can't even articulate, it's sort of a relief that so many people understand. I intended to go out alone the other night but feared the whole experience would be too awkward for me, so I stayed home. Maybe next time I will go. Consider this Resolved, but feel free to post anything if you think it hasn't been said. <3
posted by shalom at 11:58 AM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I go out to things alone, but it depends on the thing. I'll go to concerts and theater shows alone, but in all honesty I do not feel safe going to a bar alone--and given that I'm female and a crazy person magnet and the experiences I've had in bars even when accompanied, I think that's a reasonable fear. If you add "Bay Area" into that mix it's even worse. Maybe looking for a show buddy on Meetup might help that?
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:02 PM on August 30, 2017

Going out alone to shows can be a lot of fun. And traveling alone can be great too! I went overseas alone at 35 and had the best time. Spending time alone while in a relationship is important as long as their is good communication about it between you and your husband.
posted by crunchy_cereals at 10:04 AM on August 31, 2017

« Older Help me ID this light sci-fi about religion...   |   Adult friend making Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.